About that Lawsuit

At about 11pm last night I caught hell for my post about the lawsuit which ISD 709 was added to. It was a text conversation that took me past midnight or way past my bedtime. (Remember Claudia’s away and Harry will play……on his cell phone texting about the Duluth Schools)

My interlocutor began charmingly by telling me that the minority community would take that post as coming from and “ass.” It was sort of the reverse of my buddy telling me I’m a bigot (white self loather or race hustler or something)

That part of the texting was fast and furious for about ten minutes then we went on to other things District related.

But that discussion ought to be explored. If I could copy that portion of it and plant it here I would but this is the jist of it.

My interlocutor said that I might find myself shredded to pieces like another school board member who has on several occasions said wooden and insensitive things about minorities while they listened incredulously. This board member has had his flesh stripped off as a result.

I replied that the Board member deserved the treatment and noted that I had been treading Civil Right’s issues since grade school having once been a white minority kid in my sixth grade classroom. Yeah, just barely, but who else in Duluth can make that claim? Not many. I’d also challenge other Duluthians to match my civil right’s history library to theirs. And if you want to see how much I’ve pontificated on the subject of Civil Rights you can check that tag to the right on my blog topics.

I have been a bit cavalier about the suit. One of the tenure lawsuits failed in California only to be revived on appeal. I told my interlocutor that the suit struck me as being financed by the Koch brothers. Tenure has been a bugaboo for Republicans who are as furious that it might protect incompetent teachers as they have been fierce defenders of incompetent doctors who have to pay high premiums for malpracice insurance. I guess to count on the GOP’s protection it pays to be in the top tax brackets.

I pointed out that the portion of the story I made light of had to do with three paragraphs that compared Myers-Wilkins teachers with Congdon teachers or the poor school’s teachers with the rich school’s teachers. There was only a nominal difference between the two groups in terms of educational attainment and time with the District. This made the claim that Congdon teachers were better highly suspect.

I then added something I’ve noted in this blog before. At the moment our Congdon teachers, in their rich exclusive neighborhood are feeling so stressed by over crowding that their union came in and wanted a bunch of them investigated for complaining. Insubordination you know. Meanwhile, until this lawsuit the Myers-Wilkins teachers seemed happy as clams. Also, the story ended on a positive note explaining that:

“The school has never been designated as low-performing under state accountability measures enacted in 2012.”

I also admitted I hadn’t researched the moneybags behind the lawsuits, of which at least three are in the works in different states. I suggested a Democrat bogeyman one of the Koch Brothers but after a little cursory research this morning discovered a story that explained it was a group out of New York called “Partnership for Educational Justice.”

Its financed in part by the Waltons out of Arkansas and the Walmart Chain but they aren’t noted for being conservative reactionaries. Its also funded by a billionaire out of LA, Eli Broad, who is famous for granting tons of money to worthy inner city schools. Its a practice he discontinued last year because he said he couldn’t find any other such schools worthy of the award. I guess he’s going to court to give such schools justice now.

I also admitted that the Duluth Schools have been worse than execrable about hiring minority teachers. Its a hard thing to find them willing to come to Duluth but we’ve done a half ass job recruiting them since I was on the Board twenty years ago. In fact, I have a horror story or two about how some have been treated upon taking up work in ISD 709. Having lots of older tenured staff does make it harder to make room for fresher, hipper less minority-phobic teachers. That still doesn’t justify pinning all the blame for our learning gap on this one aspect of public education.

BTW. I never got my summons. It turns out that the court only needed to serve one Board member and Nora got the lucky visit. I’m a little jealous.

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